November 27, 2013. When Anne Kimathi attended a mushroom farming course in 2010, little did she know the knowledge she acquired would alter the course of her life for the better. Today, she is a grower and marketer, training farmers and buying their produce.
Anne sells her mushrooms around the city, delivering to hotels, institutions and delivers to individuals around the city centre, and wants to roll out to the rest of the country and make mushrooms a staple diet for Kenyans, citing its benefits in the body.
“Mushrooms are highly recommended to people with diabetes and arthritis and they are great immune boosters”, she says from her stand at the youth entrepreneurship expo held at the Kenya International Convention Centre (KICC). She is among a host of groups and individuals from across the country who have come to showcase their innovations at the expo.
Anne offers consultation to would be mushroom farmers, which she does every Saturday from her base at Kahawa Wendani at a fee of Sh 2,500 per person. Upon appraisal on the eligibility of a farmer, which is based on capital, land size, size of the structure and climatic conditions, Anne then advises the farmer on how to nurture a particular variety of mushrooms.
“Most farmers usually have a structure and idea of what they want. For those starting from scratch, a minimum of Sh100,000 is needed”, she says. Of the Sh100,000 about Sh60,000 goes into buying substrate and the remainder for putting up a structure.
“Substrate is a finished product that is ready to be put in a mushroom structure awaiting harvest”, Anne says, adding that mushrooms can be grown in any part of the country so long as one puts up the necessary structures.
Common mushroom growing structure are usually made from mud and roofed with thatch. This, she says, is because wood or stone structures are more expensive to put up although they are the most ideal for growing mushrooms.
Currently, she has Oyster mushroom which she sells for Sh600 per kg, the Button which retails at Sh800 per kilo and Portabella which costs Sh1,200 per kilo. The Reishi tea variety retails at Sh500 per 50 gram sachet.
By Mutuiri Gitonga